ATLANTA, GA. – The Carolina RailHawks earned a much-needed 2-0 win over the Atlanta Silverbacks at Silverbacks Park on Saturday.
Nacho Novo and Devon Sandoval powered Carolina (11W-4D-11L, 37 pts) up front, while goalkeeper Scott Goodwin earned the shutout over Atlanta (6W-5D-15L, 23 pts).
The victory kept the RailHawks’ postseason dreams alive, still trailing the Fort Lauderdale Strikers by two points in the North American Soccer League (NASL) Combined Standings with one game remaining to play in the Fall regular season.
Carolina found the opening it was looking for following Goodwin’s penalty kick save on Silverbacks forward Jaime Chávez in the 35th minute of play.
Following Goodwin’s stop, Sandoval was in the right place at the right time to tuck away a misplayed ball by Atlanta keeper Thomas Hunter and put Carolina ahead 1-0 in the 37th minute of play.
Carrying the one-goal lead into the second half, the RailHawks took advantage of a penalty kick opportunity they were afforded in the 44th minute.
After being fouled in the box, Novo took the penalty kick and extended the Carolina lead to 2-0, a margin that it maintained for the remainder of the match.
The win provided the RailHawks with a valuable three points that kept them alive in the hunt for a place in the NASL Championship.
Carolina now preps to host Minnesota United FC, the Spring Season champions, in its final match of the Fall season on Saturday.
The RailHawks will seek to earn another win that they hope will be coupled with a Fort Lauderdale loss to Ottawa that would award them fourth place in the table.
However, a Carolina win coupled with a Strikers draw would bring a tie-breaker into play, and a goal differential comparison would determine the final spot – a situation that could work against the RailHawks.
“I was disappointed last week because we didn’t get the result we were looking for,” RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke said referring to a 1-1 draw against Fort Lauderdale at WakeMed Soccer Park.
“We knew it was a make-or-break game. We had to stay in the race. We’re a little disappointed that we didn’t get more goals toward the end of the game in case goal differential comes into play next weekend. That was disappointing, but our goalkeeper and back four were superb tonight.”
CAR: Goodwin; Low, Tobin, King, Graye; Davison (C) (Osaki 53′); Shipalane, Albadawi, Barrera (da Luz 81′), Novo, Sandoval (A. Martínez 79′)
ATL: Hunter; Canovas, Gavin, Cruz, Poltronieri, Burgos (Carr 59′), Roushandel (McCaulay 66′), Gonzalez, Harlley (Sousa 73′), Chávez, Bangura
GOALS: CAR: Sandoval (unassisted) – 37th, Novo (unassisted) – 44th ; FTL: –
CAUTIONS: CAR: – ; FTL: Cházez 51st
EJECTIONS: CAR: — ; FTL: —